February 1, 2018 / 7:17 AM / a year ago

Cuba revises data to show economy grew in 2016

Cranes dot the skyline as the building of luxury hotels and the renovation of historic buildings are underway, in Havana, Cuba May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban official data released this week showed the economy grew 0.5 percent in 2016, an upwards revision from a preliminary government estimate of a 0.9 percent contraction.

President Raul Castro had told the National Assembly in Dec. 2016 that the centrally planned economy had shrunk in tandem with the crisis in key trading partner Venezuela.

But the long-overdue report by the National Statistics Office showed an uptick instead, with the trade surplus remaining steady after dropping in the previous year.

Exports of goods and services were $13.6 billion and imports $11.2 billion, compared with $14.9 billion and $12.6 billion in the previous year, the report showed. (here.pdf)

The chapter of the 2016 abstract published this week, that includes specifics on gross domestic product, exports and money supply as well as data on debt, had been expected in the second half of last year.

Its absence had raised eyebrows among analysts and left would-be investors more in the dark than usual about the Communist-run economy.

Many were also surprised when in December when the government announced Cuba’s economy grew 1.6 percent in 2017, given the backdrop of falling subsidized oil shipments from Venezuela, lower exports and a cash crunch.

Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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